Can my Mom spend down some of my Dad's half to fix items for her home?

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My mom needs to do division of assets. Can my mom be considered as guardian to my dad? We don't have POA for him and he has early stage dementia and currently is in a nursing home where we privately pay until we can get him approved for Medicaid. Their home needs some repair work and a new furnace. Can these expenses be paid for with my dad's spend down half or do we need to have the repairs done and then apply for Medicaid?

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Yes, as other correctly stated, it is not a "gift" to spend down the Medicaid applicant's funds on themselves, e.g., repairs or upgrades to the home. However, don't forget that the spouse at home is entitled to $119,220 of cash and other countable assets (in other words, in addition to the value of the home, car, personal property, etc.).
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Hurst - I would suggest you take a few steps back to look at the bigger picture for your parents and the role Medicaid poses for their life BEFORE mom goes and spends down their assets.

Now dad is already in a NH, right?so he is currently private pay, right?

Has dad already applied for Medicaid? If so, this is problematic as for couples when 1 is applying for NH Medicaid & the other remains as the "Community Spouse" the rules set by Medicaid for evaluating their application are in place. It's my understanding that for couples, the program does a snapshot day which is set on the date of the application in which their assets & income are fixed. So if they have 200k savings; 3,800 in monthly income; dad has 50k cash value insurance policy on the date of the application, those are the hard # that medicaid is going to use to set the spend-down $ on.

So is this the situation - already applied with fixed $ known - that your mom is at? If so how much $ does your state allow for CS assets (most are 114K) and how much over that does she have to spend down? Does moms CSRA or MMNA cover her costs fir her day to day & to stay living at the house?

If dad has NOT applied for medicaid, this is better as then there likely are things that can be done to place mom in a more advantageous financial situation. For CS how to best approach planning for assets & income really need to be planned for BEFORE the application. If mom is a healthy CS, she could outlive dad by a decade or more. It is central to realize that ONLY the NH spouse that needs to be impoverished, not the CS. She really needs to maximize whatever assets there are to secure her future and not place herself close to her own impoverishment. I would suggest that you & mom ASAP see a elder law attorney, see if you can get one NAELA too as CS planning is a bit more complex.

If mom could realistically stay in the house a decade plus, then spending on the house makes sense (my mom lived in the house 25 years after dad died); but if mom herself is likely to need Medicaid NH later this year or next, then spending on house is a waste as the house will likely be sold with the $ from the sale placing both mom & dad back to private pay till they impoverish themselves. For example, Instead of 20k on new roof, it may be better spending it on dental work for them as dental really isn't covered by Medicaid.

So medicaid application in for dad or not yet?
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Mom is not a "Guardian" unless she has a court order saying she is.
If the house is jointly owned, the repairs are jointly paid, 50/50.
You really should take mom to see a lawyer ASAP.
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We agree with Pam. In our experience, you can pay for home repairs as part of a spend down. The key is that your dad's money has to be spent on your dad. Home repairs ought to meet that requirement. But check with an attorney up front. If your dad is still competent enough to sign a POA, that ought to be your first priority.
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My mom spent about $35,000 on home repairs in the 5 years before she was able to accept the hard truth that she could no longer care for my dad at home. We moved him into an NH in Dec. 2013 and she paid privately for 6 months. She owns a two-flat building and lives on the first floor and rents out the second floor. The most expensive of the repairs was replacing all the windows. That cost her $22,000. The house was built in 1913 and only 5 windows in each apartment unit had been replaced and that had been in 1977. The loss of heat and AC and draftiness of the house was always a big problem. She submitted all her financial records when she was completing my dad's Medicaid application. He was approved for Medicaid within 6 months (which we were told was miraculously quick) but the State of Illinois then notified her that she would have to refund the state half of the cost ($11,000) of the windows because technically the new windows weren't an improvement to her house. But she OWNS the whole building!! It's so ridiculous. With the help of a Medicaid/Medicare consultant and an elder attorney she appealed that decision. The hearing with the state was 2 weeks ago and we are waiting their answer. The lessons I can offer here are 1) keep meticulous records of everything you spend, including bank and credit card statements and receipts; 2) Don't assume anything. If you aren't sure a specific expenditure will be allowed, check with an expert first or call the state Medicaid office and ask them. Make sure to get the representative's name, record the conversation, and/or ask for a written response. The person who later reviews your app probably won't be the same person who answers your question.
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Yes...however, please ensure that these are indeed repairs rather than improvements to the home. For example, a new roof would qualify (even if the existing one is still adequate) but a swimming pool is another matter.
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...seminars the Alzheimer's Association sponsors. Sirry, daylight savings lack of sleep and typing on phone. Good luck to you.
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Our parents moved in with us because they can no longer stay in the home they own. They need a stair lift and a walk in bathtub to make the downstairs into a lower level "mother in law apt" for them. Can they spend down some of their assets on these items if it is not installed in their own home, but in their son's home?
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Both answers above are very good. Check with an attorney if you have one. If not try to find one that will not cost you an arm and a leg for advice. We are in the act of looking for one also. Some will say they will help but do not. Be careful is easier said than done. People always say check with your lawyer or accountant. As if you have them on speed dial. We have neither and we are 60 and 65 years old. Do know that you are not "Guardian" without a court order. Which is another money maker for someone. Very good question you posed which I myself would like an answer. Thanks for the question.
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Hello hurst406, My Dad did the same exact thing with his IRA worth about 23K. So he ended up paying a lot of tax that year. We talked to the lawyer about it, and his opinion was just what you are thinking, that fighting it was not really possible, and not likely to save us much anyway. Years later, we just shake our heads at the thought, that this was just one of many really stupid decisions he made. Sometimes you can't protect them from themselves.

Also the other answers are right, you don't necessarily need guardianship, but you do need both Medical Power of Attorney, and Durable (aka financial) Power of Attorney.

We worked with an attorney who specialized in elder law when we went through this the first time, with Mom. Due to Mom's dementia and pure stubbornness on both their parts, my parents' home was a wreck. Thank goodness this spending was allowed, as everything they owned was decades past the point of needing replacement.

According to the lawyer, they had to divide their assets, Mom went in the nursing home. The amount Dad could keep was just a bit less than half. Using Mom's slightly larger half, we were allowed to replace the roof on their house, replace the ancient patio-doors, replace the old kitchen floor, buy new living room sofa, a lift chair, new TV, new top-of-the-line hearing aids for Dad water proof the leaky basement, paint the house, new glasses for them both, and a fancy wheelchair for Mom. There was more that should have been done, and had we worked fast enough, could have. But Dad had the beginnings of Dementia, and fought it every step of the way, with major argument over every purchase. There was just no getting him to understand that Mom's half of the Money was going to be all gone no matter what. Either the money would be gone, and he'd own a house in good condition, Or the money would be gone and he'd still be living in a dump. I'm not sure he ever understood. ...Also, don't forget that the staying-at-home spouse is allowed to keep their house, and one car, separate from the division of assets. (If they own a second car, or a boat, or a second home, the value of all that is included in the amount to be divided. I'm just pointing this out, in case your Mom's still drives a car, it makes sense that it should be a good car. If the one she's driving is old, you might consider trading it in on a nice reliable newer car. ...Best advice it to get a lawyer that specializes in elder law, so you know how it all works in your state. It's expensive, but worth the money. Don't forget, that money will come out of the spend down also.
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